Sample (slightly edited for flow):
Responses by philosophers run the entire gamut from fierce hostility toward prostitution (and toward any policy of full decriminalization) to an almost rhapsodic affirmation of prostitution’s benefits.
This illustrates both the strength and the limitations of philosophy as an academic discipline. The various philosophers who responded to a request from the philosophy blog Daily Nous to discuss this topic are clearly intelligent people. All of them make useful observations for the purpose of clarifying what is at stake. Yet they come to a wide range of conclusions, with no realistic prospect that they could ever converge on agreement.
As so often with philosophical debate, we can see that the participants are all operating with deep preconceptions about values, priorities, morality, and the role of law. Generally speaking, their responses are quite logical if you accept their preconceptions, but how do we establish which of these are the right ones?
Much work in academic philosophy involves an intellectually rigorous effort to solve exactly that problem. I certainly don’t suggest that it is impossible, and perhaps we do make slow progress. In practice, however, it’s extraordinarily difficult. If philosophers - or other people - are to reach agreement, sooner or later they must identify some shared premises from which they can reason and argue. But even professional philosophers find this difficult when engaged in moral, political, and social or cultural controversies, such as what we should do about prostitution.
As for what I think about prostitution… I think it’s a difficult issue, I change my mind frequently (at least about the details of a wise policy approach), and I think there are considerations that can pull in different directions. I’ve tended in the past to support full decriminalization, in the sense discussed above, but I doubt that it can be the whole story or that prostitution deserves our rhapsodies. It’s possible, too, that we need more empirical data, and that what might work in one society (if we’re mainly seeking harm reduction) could fail in another.